By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
@Tim_Linafelt on Twitter
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rashad Greene doesn’t often say much.
His mother, Cassandra James-Greene, says that, for as long as she can remember, he’s been quiet.
That’s just his personality.
But in a Florida State football season that’s been highlighted by slow starts and dramatic, come-from-behind victories, Greene has often had to step outside of his comfort zone.
No longer content to just lead by his example on the field, Greene at times has had to open his mouth, too.
“Sometimes,” Greene said, “They need to hear a voice that they rarely hear, but that at the same time means business and is going to make them snap back.
“I feel like I have the right voice for that.”
The results suggest that he does.
Greene’s passionate halftime speech lifted the Seminoles from a seven-point deficit to an overtime victory over Clemson on Sept. 20.
And he did it again last weekend at Miami with a fiery, in-your-face plea to his teammates, imploring them to snap out of whatever funk had let them fall into a 16-point hole.
The Seminoles then rallied, outscoring the Hurricanes by 17 points in the second half en route to a 30-26 victory.
“It gets you fired up,” said senior center Austin Barron. “Because you’re like ‘Whoa. What’s he doing?’”
Consider it one final step in Greene’s evolution from quiet, unassuming freshman to maybe the finest receiver in Florida State history.
With his career entering its twilight, Greene is set to leave FSU as one of the Seminoles’ most celebrated players on the field and one of their most respected players off of it.
“Greatness, to me, is measured with consistency and performance over a long period of time, and that’s what he is about,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He makes the flash plays. He makes all the big plays … (but) he doesn’t go get the spotlight, doesn’t need anything. Carries himself with tremendous professionalism.”
Greene offers a simple explanation for his success.
He says the old-fashioned combination of hard work and dedication, traits instilled in him by his mother, Cassandra, and father, Gregory Greene, have allowed him to excel.
“I think it comes from, first and foremost, my parents doing a great job of raising me and my brothers,” Greene said. “Never giving up, never settle for less as a person in whatever you choose to do in life.”
Greene was the baby of his family. Along with his parents and three older brothers, Rod, James and Rahaem, Greene grew up in nearby Albany, Ga., about 90 miles north of Tallahassee.
“We were always a happy family,” Greene said. “We’ve always been family-oriented, we always enjoyed spending time with each other.”
Rashad Greene embraces coach Jimbo Fisher after last week’s win against Boston College.
That bond, though, would be tested after Greene’s sophomore year at Westover High in Albany.
He’d already shown himself to be a football talent, but hadn’t attracted much attention from college recruiters.
Gregory Greene had an idea to change that. A native of South Florida, Greene had a friend on staff at St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale. The Raiders were one of the premiere high-school football programs in the country, but, in the summer of 2009, they needed receivers.
Rashad, if he wanted to, could move from Albany to Fort Lauderdale, live with his grandparents and play at STA.
“I looked at it as an opportunity to expand my game and really test it against a different style of football,” Greene said. “And I was able to capitalize on the opportunity.
But with that opportunity came sacrifices. None bigger than leaving his mother behind in Georgia.
“I was sad in a way,” James-Greene said. “It took the responsibility of a mother – it wasn’t taken away from me – but the day-to-day things that I was doing for him as a mother, it changed.”
Greene didn’t first enjoy his transition. He arrived as a rising junior, meaning that most of his classmates had already known each other for two years or more.
Greene, by contrast, found that he didn’t know anyone.
But Greene came into his own on the football field. George Smith, who coached St. Thomas Aquinas for 34 years before becoming the school’s athletics director in 2011, said Greene quickly became a valuable part of the roster.
“When he went in the weight room that summer, he automatically, just by what he was doing, earned the respect of the team immediately,” Smith said. “And he never lost it.
“He’s never lost the respect of anybody.”
Greene and the Raiders went on to win a state title in 2010 and he played on teams with future FSU teammates Lamarcus Joyner, Bobby Hart and Barron, as well as NFL star Giovani Bernard.
He then became one of the top receiver recruits in the country and signed at FSU – moving closer to his home in Albany in the process.
Smith said that he and Greene still maintain a close relationship and exchange text messages before every FSU football game.
“I was head coach here 34 years and we’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of good players, obviously,” Smith said. “But the most important thing is great people. And he was certainly one of those guys.
“He is one of the best human beings that we ever had the opportunity to be in this high school.”
From his 56-yard touchdown that tied Oklahoma during his freshman year to the 49-yard catch that set up the game-winning touchdown in last season’s BCS National Championship Game, Greene has treated FSU fans to a litany of memorable highlights.
He’s already FSU’s career leader in catches and receiving yards, having broken records that have stood for nearly 50 years. And with potentially four games left to play, Greene is within striking distance for more spots in the record book.
In typical fashion, Greene doesn’t like talking much about things like that. He takes as much pride in taking care of his mother and living how he feels is the right way as he does in any football accolades.
That’s why, Cassandra says, Greene has so effortlessly matured into adulthood, looking after his family throughout some challenges.
“He acts like he’s my daddy,” said James-Greene, who has attended all but one of her son’s college football games.
“He’ll call me and make sure that everything is OK with me. He checks to see how my work day is going.”
But Greene says that’s just a byproduct of how he was raised and how he lives his life.
In his mind, success in life and success on the football field come from the same place – his commitment to hard work and dedication.
“It’s not about just being able to take care of your mom that makes you a man,” He said. “I feel like it’s the values and it’s how you view life and the things you do in life with your family. Not just take care of them.
“Anyone can take care of their mom and not really show love and be there for her … those are the things that I consider being a man — handling your responsibilities, knowing the value of life.”